Thursday, May 22, 2014

PARSHAS BAMIDBAR 5774


“RABBI’S MUSINGS (& AMUSINGS)”
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bamidbar
Pirkei Avos – Perek 5 --- 23 Iyar 5774/May 23, 2014 – 38th day of the Omer

Before I left to Eretz Yisroel prior to Chanukah a few months ago, I asked a rebbe of mine if there was anyone particular I should try to make it a point to visit while I was there. He quickly answered "Rav Zundel Kroizer".
I had heard of Rav Zundel from a friend who often told me about Rav Zundel’s hidden greatness. Rav Chaim Kanievsky is purported to have once quipped that Hashem must love Rav Zundel more than He loves himself because Hashem allowed Rav Zundel to remain hidden from the public eye where he could serve G-d without interruption of the masses. Those who knew the "secret gadol" would testify about his incredible saintliness, devotion to G-d, and incredible love and diligence in Torah study.
Despite the fact that he learned privately with such notable tzaddikim as Rav Chaim Brimm zt'l, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt'l, and Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz shlita, he was virtually unknown.
When I tried to inquire about where in Yerushalayim Rav Zundel lived the only information I could procure was that he davened vasikin (sunrise) in the Zichron Moshe shteibluch (near Geulah) in the morning, and that he was again there between 4-5 pm each day davening mincha, learning, and then davening maariv.
When we were in Eretz Yisroel I had the zechus to meet and receive berachos from a few tzaddikim, including Rav Shmuel Auerbach, Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz, and Rav Avigdor Nebenzhal. But somehow I kept missing Rav Zundel. It was upsetting and frustrating, but I hoped that I would one day have the opportunity to meet him. Sadly, I now know that that will never happen, for last week Rav Zundel was niftar.
But on another level there is still a way I can meet Rav Zundel and draw from his spiritual wellsprings.
This week tens of thousands of Jews of all backgrounds traveled to Meron in the north of Eretz Yisroel to be at the kever of Rav Shimon bar Yochai on Lag Baomer. For the rest of us who were not able to be there at the unparalleled festive celebration we can take comfort from the following anecdote:
A young Gerrer chossid once asked his rebbe, the Bais Yisroel, for permission to leave yeshiva for two days so he can travel to Meron for Lag Baomer. When the rebbe asked him why he wanted to go, the chossid replied "to meet Rav Shimon bar Yochai". The rebbe poignantly replied that if he wanted to truly encounter Rav Shimon, he could find him in the pages of Gemara where his teachings are prevalent. [It's worth noting that in the Daf Yomi of Lag Baomer this past Sunday, Rav Shimon was quoted.]
Unfortunately I will never have the opportunity to receive a beracha or to gaze at Rav Zundel's holy countenance, but Torah transcends all limitations and time. Through his numerous volumes of seforim, entitled Ohr Hachama, I can encounter his greatness and still ‘meet him’.
In two weeks all of Klal Yisroel will recommit ourselves uninhibitedly to the Torah and all of its commandments. In doing so we connect ourselves to eternal life and a life of meaning and fulfillment. Above all, within the pages of Torah study we encounter G-d Himself.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum      


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